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SRQ DAILY Jul 8, 2024

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition

"I love being a School Board member."

- Tom Edwards, Sarasota County School Board Member.

[Politics]  Edwards, Babicz, Wood Contrast Visions for Sarasota Schools
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The Sarasota County School board experiences stream of controversies in recent years. Every District 3 School Board candidate, including the incumbent, believes voters can send a message that must stop.

School Board member Tom Edwards faces two challengers, long-time IT Management executive Thomas Babicz and former Sarasota Scullers executive director Greg Wood.

Edwards the last two years has been a lone member of a political minority, and said board meetings have been as trying for him as the public.

“I love being a School Board member. I hate the politics of this board from the last two years,” Edwards said. “If you think about it, from the time we terminated the superintendent until the vote on Bridger Ziegler’s Title IX resolution, it’s been 100% politics.”

He was a dissenting vote on firing former Superintendent Brennan Asplen (though he’s pleased with current Superintendent Terrance Connor) and on the district refusing federal mandates to provide student protections for transgender students. But he also stressed his work outside board meetings, including working with Sarasota Memorial Hospital to ensure continuation of a health care academy at Venice High after ShorePoint Health’s departure, and a partnership with the Gulf Coast Builder’s Exchange to establish trade academies in Sarasota schools.

Notably, both Babicz and Wood also favor providing education paths in school for students heading directly into the workforce.

Wood has coached students for decades and delivered lectures at Texas A&M University and leadership training at Fortune 500 companies. He supported much of the conservative School Board majority’s policies, including the recent Title IX stance he believes will be upheld in courts.

A father to three girls, two of them elementary age, he said quality schools are part of why he moved his family to Sarasota. But he’s concerned about political issues seeping into the classroom.

“We have been in Sarasota County schools, and we are supportive of public schools. I support school choice, and we had an experience that made us choose another,” Wood said. “We had to make the decision for our family. But one of my goals in running is to put our kids back in the school system.”

Babicz also strongly supports the recent Title IX resolution from the district, but said he’s upset how both political sides distract from the board’s core mission. He grew up poor in Soviet-occupied Poland, then fled to West Germany and moved to the U.S., where he climbed from janitor into the IT ranks and achieved his own “American Dream.” Now a grandfather with a grandson soon entering the local schools, he said he wants to strengthen teachers, reduce administrative waste and excise political activism from board meetings.

Reviewing contracts, he was stunned to see school renovations costing $18 million that should have been completed for under $3 million. While he wants to increase teacher pay, he believes all non-faculty costs in the budget could be reduced by 20%.

“We are more than lucky the current superintendent is a gift from heaven. I would give him an A-plus. He already started with education results that are better every month,” Babicz said. “I can also see he’s easy to work with to improve schools. The board is not doing that well. Maybe in the case of education, but in case of our dollars, I would give them maybe a C.”

Edwards holds a money advantage in the race. He has raised more than $162,000. Wood has raised north of $15,000 and Babicz has raised just under $15,000. All Sarasota County voters can vote in the Aug. 20 election. If no one wins a majority, the top two vote-getters advance to the General Election. While office is nonpartisan, the Sarasota County Democratic Party just included Edwards on its list of endorsed candidates. Wood serves on the Republican Party of Sarasota’s audit committee.  

Photos courtes campaigns: Tom Edwards, Thomas Babicz, Greg Wood.

[County News]  Sarasota County's Vulnerability Assessment Overview

Join us for a community meeting to review Sarasota County's Vulnerability Assessment and Resilience Plan. This project, funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Resilient Florida Grant Program, addresses flooding and sea level rise risks and outlines mitigation projects. Registrants are welcome to attend in-person at the UF/IFAS Extension & Sustainability office at Twin Lakes Park or participate virtually. Light refreshments will be provided for in-person attendees. In the meeting, we will review the results of the Vulnerability Assessment, focusing on Sarasota County assets that are at risk from sea level rise and flooding. Attendees will have the opportunity to see these areas through maps and online visuals, as well as explore the strategies outlined in the adaptation and resilience plan. On May 12, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1954 into law, establishing a comprehensive strategy for Florida’s coastal and inland resilience. This landmark legislation ensures coordinated efforts to protect Florida's waterways and coastlines against sea level rise. It represents the largest investment in the state’s history for preparing communities for rising sea levels, intensified storms, and flooding. The Resilient Florida Program offers grants to counties, municipalities, special districts, and regional resilience entities. These grants help eligible applicants analyze and plan for vulnerabilities, as well as implement adaptation and mitigation projects. Please register this event only at ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com rather than any third-party websites, as they are not affiliated with our classes and events. For questions or further information, please call 941-861-5000 or email sarasota@ifas.ufl.edu. If you require special accommodations to attend one of our events, please contact us in advance at 941-861-5000 or sarasota@ifas.ufl.edu. 

To register, click here

[Housing]  Sarasota Housing Authority Grand Opening of 84-Unit Affordable Housing Community

The Sarasota Housing Authority & Executives of Fortis Development will host a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for Cypress Square a modern 84 unit affordablehousing community in Sarasota. Special guests include City of Sarasota Mayor Liz Alpert, County Commissioner Mark Smith, and US Dept. of HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Felicia Gaither.

Monday, July 8th, 2024 - 4:00pm, Cypress Square Clubhouse, (standalone 1-story building behind apartments). The property
address is 1672 21st Street, Sarasota. 

[Arts & Entertainment]  July Events at Creative Liberties

Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery continues its season’s offerings with an all-packed July starting an exhibition of works by residents of the ARCOS Apartments, 340 Central Avenue in Sarasota, July 17-August 31. Meet the artists, learn about their process, and view and purchase their art. Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. An opening reception is Wednesday, July 17, 5-7 p.m. 

Pictured: Family Art Day at Creative Liberties. Photo courtesy of Creative Liberties.

[Grant]  FST Receives $2,000,0000 Leadership Gift for the FST Arts Plaza

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is pleased to announce a gift from Cheryl Gorelick and Jake Zeigler of $2,000,000 toward the FST Arts Plaza. This gift was made as part of The Maier Match Challenge in support of the “McGillicuddy Circle of Friends” through the “one-to-one match,” which brings the $2,000,000 gift to $4,000,000. The leadership gift helps FST surpass the Maier Match Challenge’s halfway goal after only two months of fundraising. 

[SRQIST]  Marathon Man
Barbie Heit, barbie.heit@srqme.com

This Dentist Runs More Than Just His Own Practice, July/August 2024.


Read Here!

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Lets Connect at Oscura in Old Manatee , August 31 – December 26, 8:30-10am

Connect with local business owners at every Thursday at Oscura. Lets Connect is a community of collaborative business professionals from the Manatee and Sarasota County areas. RSVP on Eventbrite to attend, admission is free.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Collaborative Coworking Meetup at UTC , September 1 – December 27, 11am-4pm

Attention all business professionals, join us for a productive and inspiring coworking event at Panera Bread at the UTC Mall every Friday. Take advantage of this opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow professionals in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Limited spots available, so register now on Eventbrite. Panera Bread, 215 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch , September 3 – September 30, 10am-2pm

Experience some of the best food and flavors of the region with more than 100, and still growing, curated vendors. The Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch has fast become a favorite weekly tradition for people from all over the region seeking farm-fresh produce, delicious prepared foods, and specialty items and gifts. Aside from all the goodies you can shop at the Farmers Market, find your flow in a free yoga class or have the kiddos get creative during weekly-hosted workshops. 1561 Lakefront Dr., Lakewood Ranch.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Sarasota County Connect Business Networking and Panel Discussion , May 9 – July 11, 5:30-8pm

Offered in conjunction with 26 West, the State College of Florida Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation, the monthly Sarasota County Connect Business Networking and Panel Discussion series held through July is for those interested in entrepreneurialism. The program taps into the fast-growing small business climate. Upcoming sessions include: the May 9 workshop with Zeev Wexler, a digital industry leader, marketing automation disrupter and the CEO of a growing marketing firm, who will present on brand-boosting with AI, the June 13 session which features Problem-Solving for Entrepreneurs by Stephen Diasio, a podcaster and professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of South Florida, and July 11 Business IDEA Lab, community forum moderated by Chris Williams, managing director of a Sarasota digital marketing firm, offers an opportunity for participants to share business ideas and gain expert feedback. Sarasota County Connect events run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and are free with advanced registration required at 26west.scf.edu/sarasotaconnect.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Divorce Support Group , May 1 – January 6, Every Wednesday from 5-6:30pm

The Womens Resource Center presents a Divorce Support Group facilitated by Paula Falk, BS. This in-person, free program happens every Wednesday, 5-6:30 p.m., starting May 1, at the Womens Resource Center Sarasota, 340 S Tuttle Ave., Sarasota. Participants can attend one or all of the sessions. To register, visit www.mywrc.org/divorcesupportgroup. For more information, call 941-366-1700.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Workforce Development Program , June 12 – September 1

All current jobs through the Department of Transportation for road/construction are listed on a map of Florida. Clients of the Women's Resource Center will first apply online and then begin the job search. Local agent for Manatee and Sarasota counties will work directly with client helping with job search and building a resume. Currently, they are working to promote womrn in this field. 

The Womens Resource Center, 340 S Tuttle Ave, Sarasota, FL 34237

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Project Phoenix and Resale , June 12 – September 1

Project Phoenix and Resale will help clients who are starting over due to losing a home through a fire or other life changing events. Residents Sarasota and Charlotte County who have experience said events get household, personal, and or food items at no cost. Must first call for an appointment and be reffered by a local nonprofit.

Project Phoenix and Resale, 36 W Dearborn St., Englewood, FL 34223

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Salvation Army of Sarasota Food Pantry , May 30 – September 1, 12pm

The Salvation Army of Sarasota has a new Food Pantry that is now open Mondays and Thursdays from 12:00om to 2:00pm at 1701 South Tuttle Avenue. Food is being supplies by All Faiths Food Bank. 

Salvation Army of Sarasota , 1701 South Tuttle Avenue

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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